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Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

a Comedy
by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 5411

SHOWING : November 21, 2018 - December 23, 2018



1815. English countryside. This Christmas, revisit your favorite "Pride and Prejudice" characters at Mr. and Mrs. Darcy’s grand estate, Pemberley, as The Outfit’s smash holiday hit sparkles to life once more. Mary Bennet, bookish and overshadowed by her sisters, must trust her heart and bloom when a curious visitor proves himself an intellectual match, kindred spirit, and possibly more. Bursting with modern wit and period style, this comedic sequel to one of the most beloved literary romances of all time will enchant Jane Austen fans, newcomers, and return guests alike.

Director Carolyn Cook
Mary Bennet Amelia Fischer
Anne De Bourgh Stephanie Friedman
Arthur De Bourgh Jonathan Horne
Jane Bingley Jeanette Illidge
Elizabeth Darcy Jasmine Thomas
Charles Bingley Juan Carlos Unzueta
Fitzwilliam Darcy Justin Walker
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A Holiday Confection
by playgoer
Monday, December 24, 2018
Seamus M. Bourne’s set design is the same as last year, but it doesn’t seem as sparklingly new, which is a benefit. Elizabeth Rasmussen’s costumes are also largely the same, but with cast changes there are differences, and the clothes don’t have quite the impact they did last year. Alex Riviere’s lighting design works well, and Rob Brooksher’s sound design is excellent as it accompanies piano playing and the frequent scene-setting mute action (although one of the cues seems to have been late at the performance I attended).

Carolyn Cook once again directs, so the flow is much the same as last year. A major change, however, occurs at the very top of the show. Instead of Mary Bennet (Amelia Fischer) writing and reviewing a letter at the Pemberley desk, she stands down center to deliver her lines. This more clearly defines that she is at home, before arriving at Pemberley for the Christmas holidays. Blocking still makes good use of the stage, but from my vantage point at far audience right, I could see this year that blocking is oriented toward the center part of the audience. This was underscored at the performance I attended by the people next to me for the first act moving up into empty center section seats for the second act.

"Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley" is a delightful play, and Theatrical Outfit’s reprise production lets the script shine. Amelia Fischer as Mary and Devon Hales as her younger sister Lydia are both as excellent as last year, and Juan Carlos Unzueta once again plays their brother-in-law with charm and humor. Jonathan Horne is still wonderful as Arthur De Bourgh, although his performance this year was colored for me by the recent appearance on TV’s "Survivor" of Christian, another science nerd with a similar stilted manner.

Justin Walker and Jasmine Thomas play Darcy and Elizabeth from "Pride and Prejudice," and they both do fine in their roles, although the script makes it clear that these are not leading roles in this sequel by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. Jeannette Illidge is a delight as gravid Bennet sister Jane Bingley, and Stephanie Friedman triumphs in the role of self-absorbed and tyrannical Anne De Bourgh, letting us sense the insecurity underlying her behavior. All in all, this is the equal of last year’s production, with the skewing of color-blind casting from Hispanic to black not making a whit of difference. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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